He heard it every day, but he'd never paid attention to it before. The soft sound of music spilling from the room at the end of the hall. Finally succumbing to his curiosity, he followed the music to its source. Stopping quietly in the doorway, he saw Marie sitting at the piano, face radiant in the sunlight, her ungloved hands dancing along the keys.
He hadn't seen her smile like that in a long time. Maybe never. He knew that, even though she was loved and protected here at Xavier's, she still missed out on so much. She never let on that she was at all unhappy, but he had only to look at her now to see that her smiles around others were a pale shadow of the joy she felt at that piano.
He let the music wash over him. It was something vaguely familiar -- Brahms, maybe, or Bach. <One of the "B" guys,> he thought.
He listened until she was done, and then slipped away, a plan beginning to take shape in his mind.
A few days later, he was ready to take the plunge. Once again following the music, he walked into the room and sat, waiting for her to notice his presence.
She finished the piece she was playing and he applauded, startling her.
"Logan! I swear, you just about gave me a heart attack," she said, hand over her heart, grin on her face.
"Sorry, kid. Just enjoying the music."
"Thanks. That was Beethoven. 'Moonlight Sonata.' My momma's favorite."
He rose and walked over to the piano. She shifted away, fully aware of her bare hands, even if he wasn't. Playing his fingers idly across the keys, he said, "You think you could teach me to play?"
Her eyebrows rose in surprise. "I, I don't know. I never gave lessons, only took them. And why would you want to learn to play the piano, anyway? Might ruin your reputation as the big, bad Wolverine."
He shrugged, thinking and rejecting each of the answers that came to mind, most of them variations on how he wanted to be with her when she smiled like that, wanted to make her smile like that at him someday. He wanted to be able to do something with her where she didn't have to wear gloves all the time. He went with, "Watched 'Amadeus' the other night. Thought it was cool."
She raised a single eyebrow and he could tell she didn't believe him, but that didn't bother him. "Okay," she said, "sit down here next to me." And she pulled her gloves on.
"No, no," he said quickly. That wasn't what he wanted. "Leave them off."
"Leave them off, Marie," he growled. That was that. He sat down and pulled out his own gloves, soft leather worn by years of use. "Show me."
"You can't play in gloves," she started. "Just let me--"
He cut her off again. "Show me," he demanded.
She touched a white key. "This is middle C." She splayed her fingers over the keys. "This is how your hands should be. Fingers arched, not flat. Wrists relaxed."
Again, "Show me." And he laid his hands flat on the keyboard.
She looked askance at him, then licked her lips and sighed. She placed her bare hands over his, positioning his fingers correctly. If she lingered longer than necessary, or absently rubbed the spaces between his knuckles, well, he wasn't going to complain. "Like that."
"Like this?" he asked, curling his hands into imitation claws.
"Logan, stop being silly," she said, laying her hands on top of his again, rubbing his knuckles more deliberately this time. He relaxed and she said, "This is what middle C looks like in music notation." She pointed to one of the dots on the paper on the music stand. "This is called the staff, and these are the notes." She rambled on and on, not removing her hands from on top of his as she did so. It was hard to suppress his grin.
Finally, she noticed. "Pay attention, Logan. What are you smirking at?" He gazed pointedly at their hands, her elegant, pale fingers overlaying his larger, leather-clad digits. "Oh," she said, and snatched her hands away. There was a look in her eyes that was absolutely *not* what he wanted to see. Fear. "Sorry."
He grabbed at her hands. "Don't be. Don't be sorry. Don't be afraid."
"Logan, I --"
"No, Marie. No excuses. No bullshit. You got a raw deal, yeah. And they may make you feel like you can't ever touch them," and he leaned in close now, "but you can always touch me." His face was so close she could feel his breath on her lips. "Always," he repeated fiercely.
Her mouth opened, but no sound came out. She licked her lips again nervously, and he leaned back, bringing one of her hands close to his own mouth. He brushed her skin so lightly -- like the touch of a butterfly's wings -- she thought later that maybe she'd imagined it.
Then he smiled, a real smile. And got one in return from her, her face lighting up from within, reminding him again of what he was waiting for, why he hung around when he'd never stayed in any one place for long.
"Here endeth the lesson," he murmured, and then rose fluidly. She had a dazed look in her eyes. "See you tomorrow for lesson two?" he asked in a more normal tone.
She nodded and he left. "Same bat time, same bat channel," she whispered softly, pressing the hand he'd kissed to her own lips.
Maybe her dreams weren't so impossible after all, she thought, focusing once again on Beethoven.